Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
I'm hoping to keep the Gophers football content coming this winter, and I also need to familiarize myself with the roster. So today, I'm trying to marry those two goals by launching an occasional series, taking a capsule look at the players.
And what better way to start than with defensive cornerstone, Ra'Shede Hageman?
Position: Defensive tackle
2013 class: Fifth-year Senior
High School: Minneapolis Washburn
Recruiting flashback: Hageman was a two-time All-State tight end and a standout basketball player for Washburn. Tom Lemming ranked him as the nation's No. 1 tight end recruit in the 2009 class. Rivals.com listed him as a three-star recruit, noting that he had offers from Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Nebraska, among others. Gophers coach Tim Brewster convinced Hageman to stay home.
Early college: Hageman redshirted in 2009 and grew to 300 pounds. He moved to defensive end in 2010 and became a defensive tackle in 2011, under Jerry Kill. Hageman turned a corner that year as a sophomore, notching two sacks and a forced fumble in the season-ending victory over Illinois.
2012 rewind: Having never started a collegiate game before the season, Hageman took a big leap forward, starting all 13 games and finishing with 35 tackles (20 solo), 7.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks. He was an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection.
2013 outlook: Hageman is the Gophers’ top returning defensive player. In December, he said he knows the NFL can wait, adding that he needs improvement, especially on stopping the running game and going full-speed on every play. “Getting another year means I’ve got another spring ball to work hard, get a little bit stronger, so I can be a dominant player in the Big Ten,” he said.
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